I’ve got a version of Aesop’s fable “Fox and Grapes” for you today that I’ve abridged slightly. This version introduces a mouse who taunts the fox. You may have already seen the Greek word for ‘fox’ in another post.
A fox seeing a cluster of ripe grapes on a trellis was desiring to eat them, but was unable to find a way to eat as they were at some height. A mouse seeing this laughed aloud saying: “You’ll munch on nothing.” The fox not wanting to give credit to the mouse said: “They are sour grapes.”
Ἀλώπηξ ἐν κρεβαττινᾷ βότρυας πεπείρους ἰδοῦσα ἤμελλε φαγεῖν μέν, ἐν ὕψει δὲ ὄντας οὐκ ηὐπόρει φαγεῖν. Μῦς δὲ ἰδὼν ταύτην ἐμειδίασεν εἰπών· Οὐδὲν τρώγεις. Ἡ δὲ ἀλώπηξ μὴ θέλουσα ἡττηθῆναι παρὰ τοῦ μυὸς ἔφη· Ὄμφακές εἰσιν.
Alopex en krebattina botruas pepeirous idousa emelle phagein men, en hupsei de ontas ouk euporei phagein. Mus de idon tauten emeidiasen eipon: “Ouden trogeis.” He de alopex me thelousa hettethenai para tou muos ephe: “Ompakes eisin.”
Ἀλώπηξ ἐν κρεβαττινᾷ βότρυας πεπείρους ἰδοῦσα ἤμελλε φαγεῖν μέν,
Ἀλώπηξ — alopex: fox
κρεβασσινά / κρεβαττινᾷ — krebassina / krebattina: trellis: the double-t / double-s shift is common in Greek dialects — Attic has ττ and other dialects like Ionic have σσ. Our passage has ττ signifying the dialect is Attic.
βότρυς — botrus: cluster of grapes
πέπειρος — pepeiros: ripe
ἰδοῦσα — idousa: to see
μέλλω — mello: to want
φαγεῖν — phagein: to eat; from phago we get words like ‘esophagus’ and ‘sarcophagus.’ Sarko means ‘flesh,’ so a ‘sarcophagus’ is a ‘flesh-eater’ or a box that encloses as if having swallowed a dead body.
ἐν ὕψει δὲ ὄντας οὐκ ηὐπόρει φαγεῖν.
ὕψος — hupsos: height
εὐπορέω — euporeo: to find a way
Μῦς δὲ ἰδὼν ταύτην ἐμειδίασεν εἰπών· Οὐδὲν τρώγεις.
Μῦς — mus: This word interests me. Among Indo-European words, those that show little variation among languages tend to be those that are more “fundamental” to a language’s syntax. For example, our words for “why, who, that, the, and, I, etc.” are used often and change little over time — and little across languages, whereas more superficial words come and go: notably some words are more meme than word appearing rapidly from nowhere and leaving just as soon (blog, blogosphere, tweet, to google.) Well, look how little ‘mouse’ changes among Indo-European language. This might be because mice are a constant companion to humanity.
Few words are nearly universal not just in one language family but among all languages. One of the few I’ve seen that is not only nearly universal but also probably prehistoric is ‘dad.’ This word’s origins could go as far back as to the dawn of Homo Sapiens 200,000 years ago.
μειδιάω — meidiao: to smile, laugh aloud
Οὐδὲν — ouden: nothing
τρώγεις — trogeis: to gnaw, nibble, munch
Ἡ δὲ ἀλώπηξ μὴ θέλουσα ἡττηθῆναι παρὰ τοῦ μυὸς ἔφη· Ὄμφακές εἰσιν.
αἰτιάομαι — aitiaomai: to give credit to
ὄμφαξ — omphax: an unripe grape